Taking Fear and Panic Out of the
Gardasil HPV-Vaccine Decision Process
Merck’s award winning marketing campaign for their HPV-vaccine, Gardasil, was designed to instill a sense of urgency, the need to protect girls from the clear and imminent danger of cervical cancer. Cancer, like FIRE, is one of those words that never should be yelled in a crowd, because panic ensues. The word cancer has a whole slide tray of images that involve pain, medical processes, and lingering death. A “good” parent would protect their child from cancer. A concerned parent would immediately call their family doctor and get their daughter the Gardasil, HPV-vaccine to protect her from the scourge of cervical cancer. This marketing campaign, combined with a Blitzkrieg political lobbing effort managed to get Gardasil approved, mandated by several States and in the bodies of young women everywhere, before a lot of questions were asked, let alone answered.
Is Gardasil really the right answer?
The first question a parent should ask, “Is this shot necessary?” Do your own research an come to an informed decision, not one based on an impression formed by a slick marketing campaign.
“Is this shot safe?” My personal opinion is no; but that is a question for each parent to conduct his or her own risk/benefit analysis. All I know for sure, and I get my statistical information from the CDC, the same agency that promotes the use of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, that it is not the only way to protect our daughters. According to CDC literature, the PAP test is still the best way to detect Cervical cancer early and cervical cancer is the easiest cancer to cure non-invasively. Based on the FDA recalls of the past decade, a reasonable ‘lesson-learned’ is that any time foreign substance are introduced to the immune system and opportunity for failure exists.
Why take the risk is there is a proven, safe alternative?
These Cervical cancer statistics are from the Center for Disease Control, taken from their website with no additions or editing. Please note that these statistics were extrapolated in 2005, that is before the HPV vaccine Garadasil was approved by the FDA. (2005 is the latest available don’t ask me why, that is another Blog.)
CDC Cervical Cancer Statistics
Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. However, in the past 40 years, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. This decline largely is the result of many women getting regular Pap tests, which can find cervical precancer before it turns into cancer.1 According to the U.S. Cancer Statistics: 2005 Incidence and Mortality Web site, 11,999 women in the U.S. were told that they had cervical cancer in 2005,* and 3,924 women died from the disease.2 It is estimated that more than $2 billion† is spent on the treatment of cervical cancer per year in the U.S.3 The number of women in the U.S. who develop or die from cervical cancer each year varies by state. Find more information about cervical cancer rates by state.
- 3.6% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among all women.
- 3.5% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among white women.
- 5.0% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among African-American women.
- 5.3% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among Asian/Pacific Islander women.
- 4.2% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among Hispanic women.
- 3.4% decrease per year from 1995 to 2005 among all women.
- 3.2% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among white women.
- 4.3% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among African-American women.
- 5.2% decrease per year among Asian/Pacific Islander women.
- 3.1% decrease per year from 1996 to 2005 among Hispanic women.
- No change from 1996 to 2005 among American Indian/Alaska Native women.‡
Even though these trends suggest that cervical cancer incidence and mortality continue to decrease significantly overall, and for women in some racial and ethnic populations, the rates are considerably higher among Hispanic and African-American women. Find more information about cervical cancer rates by race and ethnicity.
*The most recent year for which statistics are available. †The cost estimates were originally presented in 1996 U.S. dollars, which were updated to 2000 U.S. dollars using the Medical Care Component of the Consumer Price Index [MCPI]. ‡Any change in the rate recorded for this group was not statistically significant.
- Cervical Cancer. NIH Consensus Statement. April 1–3 1996;14(1):1–38.
- U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2005 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2009. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
- Brown ML, Lipscomb J, Snyder C. The burden of illness of cancer: economic cost and quality of life. Annual Review of Public Health 2001;22:91–113.
- Ries LAG, Melbert D, Krapcho M, Mariotto A, Miller BA, Feuer EJ, Clegg L, Horner MJ, Howlader N, Eisner MP, Reichman M, Edwards BK (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2005, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, based on November 2007 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER Web site, 2008.